American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. Used other than as an idiom: see small, beer.
- n. Beer with a low alcoholic content
- n. chiefly UK Something that is of relatively little importance.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. fig. insignificant matters.
- adj. See under Beer.
- n. something of small importance
“The shock of discovering that my Afghan orderly was an American medical man23 (and no doubt as big a villain as Gardner said) was quite small beer after all the rest.”
“When I saw it I thought you had sent it back in a huff, tired out by my sauciness, and coldness, and delays, and were going to keep an account of dimities and sayes, or to salt pork and chronicle small beer as the dutiful wife of some fresh-looking, rural swain; so that you cannot think how surprised and pleased I was to find them all done.”
“Richard disbursed a penny for a tankard of small beer for Insell, who drained it at a gulp.”
“In London, the largest was Whitehall, the effective hub of the kingdom, spread over some twenty acres and consisting of fifty-three buildings and courtyards ranging from the small beer buttery to the sublime Palladian-style Banqueting House.”
“There are good Stables and Coach house and all the offices are very Convenient – very good Cellars all arch'd, and there I dranke small beer four years old not too Stale, very Clear good Beer well brew'd.”
“This hospitality of seven hundred years 'standing did not hinder C. from pronouncing a malediction on the priest who receives£2000 a year, that were meant for the poor, and spends a pittance on this small beer and crumbs.”
“My lads and I will have to drink small beer on burgoo days and I warrant yon William Stanley from Seend can get it for us.”
“By mid-afternoon, with Rusgann hovering excitedly near her, pressing her to drink cup after cup of small beer to flush the remnants of the soporific physick from her body, she was returning to herself and could speak in a fashion that was nearly normal.”
“You would wonder what carking and caring there is among us for small beer and lean mutton, and starved lamb, and stopping gaps, and driving cattle from the corn.”
“More bread and small beer in the morning, then onward through that confusing racket, joined now by the cries of vendors and some very interesting stenches—rotten fish, rotten meat, rotten vegetables.”
These user-created lists contain the word ‘small beer’.
Of low worth or little importance.
Unwanted matter by drusky is a nice, related list.
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Looking for tweets for small beer.